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U.S. authors: Kindle lending library is 'contract breach'

Amazon is in hot water with publishers, after accusations that the online giant "boldly breached contracts" with its new Kindle lending library service.
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Written by Zack Whittaker, Writer-editor on

It has been less than two weeks since Amazon launched its Kindle owners' lending library, giving Amazon Prime customers additional perks to borrow a book a month for free with no due-back dates.

But some American authors are furious over the new Kindle lending library after accusations were made that the online book giant is "boldly breaching its contracts" with publishers, the Guardian reports.

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The library has over 5,000 titles available, including bestselling titles and Booker-winning novels, Amazon said during the library's announcement that the books came from publishers under "a variety of terms". Most will have come from publishers after agreements were struck to include the books for a fixed fee, while others will have been purchased under standard wholesale terms each time the book is borrowed.

Publishers and authors are like, however, are failing to see how the library works in the "best interests" of the novel writers.

In a statement released by the Association of Authors' Representatives (AAR), it said:

"The agent and author community have not been consulted about this new sort of use of authors’ copyrighted material, and are unaware of how publishers plan on compensating authors for this sort of use of their books, which is unprecedented."

The group added: "Without a clear contractual understanding with their authors, it is unclear to us how publishers can participate in this program", whilst making it clear that it "isn't about Amazon", more rather a rebuttal to subscription models.

The Authors Guild, who this year began legal action against a number of U.S. universities after the guild moved to prevent their authors' work from becoming digitized, called Amazon's lending library a "mess" and that the online giant has "simply disregarded" the wishes of publishers.

But this controversy is part of a long list of issues over the years, with publishers wanting one thing for its clients and writers, whilst major industries often attempt to take advantage without realising what a powerful collective force these groups and guilds of writers can be.

Amazon seems to believe that it does not require the permission of publishers to include the books as part of its lending library, with some publishers reportedly only learning of the service as news of the lending library broke less than two weeks ago.

Amazon was not immediately available to comment.

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